Today's Politicos vs The Words and Deeds of The Founders
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A Living, Breathing, Evolving . . . POPPYCOCK!

There are 2 narratives from the Left about our founding documents. Both are designed to get its inconvenient limitations to their agenda out of the way.   The first is that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are irrelevant and outdated.   It goes something like this: the founders could not have foreseen the advent of the automobile.  Or better, the founders could not have foreseen the global economy.   And so forth and so on. As though the light bulb or a man on the moon suddenly changed the way man behaves and fundamentally genetically altered his persona.   The second is that the Constitution is a “living breathing document”, evolving to suit the changes needed as man outgrows the antiquated thinking of the 18th century.  That um, prepositional changes are needed. We really need Freedom FROM religion, not freedom OF religion, for example. Yeah. That’s it.

Both these narratives are transparently obvious in their intent.  They are grossly inaccurate and conveniently suited to their inventors.

150 years after the signing of the Declaration, President Calvin Coolidge made these observations and he makes the case that Truth is Truth, not subject to the whims of man and the machinations of tyrants, far better.

Calvin CoolidgeAbout the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.  It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.  But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter.  If all men are created equal, that is final.  If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final.  If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.  No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.   If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress.  They are reactionary.   Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

I will have to give Calvin Coolidge a good deal more attention.   Strangely, he is not much more than a footnote in most history textbooks.  He exists in the education system as a kind of witless boob Neanderthal relic of the pre-Depression 20’s.  I think the Progressives can’t refute his argument, so they seek to shut Silent Cal up instead.

H/T Powerline Blog

7 comments

1 Michael E. Newton { 07.06.11 at 5:34 am }

My second favorite President!

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2 robot { 07.06.11 at 7:11 am }

Great points, Erich. Spot on.
We need freedom FROM our over-reaching government…

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3 James D. Best { 07.06.11 at 8:13 am }

Coolidge became president after Harding died in office. I fear that someone of his character would seldom be elected directly.

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4 Jeff Edelman { 07.07.11 at 9:06 pm }

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done there is nothing new under the sun” (ECC 1:9 RSV).

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5 Ib Heinisch { 07.13.11 at 7:17 pm }

By all means, the “Original intent”:
To begin with, the original document was silent on the right to vote. Voting rights were largely a matter of state law, and in 1787 most states limited the franchise to white, male, Protestant property owners, age 21 or older. The original Constitution did not allow for direct popular voting for president or the United States Senate, and there was no clear language even allowing for voting for members of the House of Representatives.
And then there’s the matter of slavery. Article I, Section 1 of the original Constitution permitted slavery and the slave trade. It referred to “free persons” and those “bound to service.” For the purposes of census, apportionment and taxation, Indians and other persons would only be counted as three-fifths of whites. Slavery did not end until the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and the adoption of the 13th Amendment in 1865. The original Constitution lacked an equal protection clause, which bans discrimination. It took the 14th Amendment in 1868 and a Supreme Court decision to create it. Lacking this clause, states were free to discriminate, and they regularly did via segregation laws.
Just to mention a few points.

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6 Erich Sielaff { 07.13.11 at 8:15 pm }

The principles in the founding documents actually transcended the times. We don’t have the perspective of living in an era where serfdom and slavery were the institutions of the day. The charter was way ahead of the application and the founders knew this. As Coolidge said: “If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.” And backward we will go if we fail to adhere to the principles of equality and liberty that made the advances that living under this amazing world changing charter made possible. Because of it, those former institutions were demolished. Without it, they are bound to return, as nature abhors a vacuum. Liberty’s void will be tyranny’s abundance.

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7 Jack Nugent { 01.10.12 at 7:00 am }

I’ve never heard the left make a statement like this. Who in the left is saying that the Founding Documents require change. Most of the talk I hear on the left is that the Right is selling out our freedoms for perceived security and corporation profits. The basis of this article seems deeply flawed. Leftist Civil Libertarians are defending freedoms.

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